By SUZANNE CORBETT
Something different and unique is what restaurateur David Fuentes promises his guests when they visit Cabos Cantina, St. Peter’s most authentic Mexican grill restaurant.
“When we opened, we always talked about making it different,” said Fuentes, whose new streamlined menu features influences from Mexico’s Jalisco and Veracruz regions along with Fuentes family recipes. “We make sure every plate is unique by taking the extra time to do it right and that starts with sourcing authentic ingredients. People today know what those traditional ingredients are and they can taste the difference.”
That difference begins with the hand prep of every dish, overseen by Cabos chef Rene Mazaba, who with Fuentes, selects the finest ingredients such as imported Mexican chiles and genuine Mexican-style cheeses, including queso fresco and aged Cotija cheese, a cheese similar to Parmesan.
“We use aged Cotija on the beans and enchiladas. queso fresco is a good melting cheese we use for quesadillas,” explained Mazaba.
In attention to recreating Cabos’ family recipes, Mazaba incorporates traditional ingredients such as mangoes from his native Veracruz. Mazaba’s subtle use of mango is the secret ingredient that has taken Cabos’ pico de gallo to the next level – making it a customer favorite.
“Everything is made fresh. We hand squeeze all the limes for the margaritas and make all the sauces and chips and our own marinades. Even the beans are made in house [using Grandma Fuentes’ recipe].
Fresh flavors define Mexican cooking and serve as the springboard for Mazaba and his team to translate those recipes into exceptional dishes ranging from appetizers to main plates to desserts.
Bomba Dip, a layered mix of melted Mexican cheese, house-made sausage and sauces is a flavor combination of gourmet status. So, too, is Cabos’ new salad dressing, which features cilantro and pepita [pumpkin seeds]. Pollo Vallarta is another standout dish – a delicately marinated and grilled chicken breast combined with pineapple and ham and ladled with cheese sauce. Another star of the grill is Steak Ranchero, a hand-cut New York strip accented with sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese sauce.”
While Cabos retains its signature Mexican specialties such as David’s Especial Fajitas and the Carnitas Enchiladas, its customers have come to enjoy its new menu that emphasizes the Mexican grill, a concept Fuentes embraced during his trips to Mexico.
“When we go back to Mexico, we’ll see someone selling street tacos [and] right next to them is someone who is selling street burgers. They’re putting their own spin on American food – that’s something we can do here,” Fuentes said.
“Here you can find good Mexican food along with a good burger,” Mazaba added. “If you want a good steak, we got it. Grilled chicken? Got it.”
Traditional to grilled specialties, it’s all about heart.
“This is what Mexican food is all about,” Fuentes said. “Having the passion to do things right; having high quality, fresh ingredients. This is Mexican food with heart.”